How to deal with relatives you don't like

This article tells you what to do with the family member who annoys you all the time. There are various ways to handle the situations with family members that way the program will be more enjoyable and stress less.


It is not in your hand to pick your family member or those within it, but you can choose how you react or respond with them when difficult situation comes in your family. You may not always skip out on family functions and you might have great relationships with all other family members except this one. So only for one or two distressful members you can't skip the whole function and hardhearted other family members. Following are some guideline to tactically handle the unavoidable situation with them.

Control unpleasant Interactions

How you want to behave, think first

Take a few moments to decide how you want to behave before you spend time with this particular relative. Might be you and the relative had a headed conversation in the past. Decide yourself what started these arguments and try to avoid getting into an argument this time. Suppose you may be proud to be Atheist, but your relative may truly believes in God. That difference might land you in hell. It may be best way to avoid talking about religious beliefs when your relative around.

Seeking support

If you have a bad time getting along with a relative, let someone in your family involve(like spouse,parents or sibling) that you had like to minimize your interaction with this relative. In that way, you will get cornered into a heated discussion or argument you want to avoid, you can signal for a rescue. You can agree on a sign ahead of time if you may need a rescue at a important family function. For e.g. you can make a eye contact and give a signal that means "Please help me to get out of this situation!"

Pause before you speak

If you have a strong negative feeling toward someone, don't react so quickly without thinking. This will left the situation more worsen. To control the situation take a deep breath before you start speaking. If you are having a hard time holding back negative comments, gently handle it by excusing yourself. You might say "Excuse me. I am going to use the washroom" or "I am going to see if any help is needed in the kitchen."

Enjoy yourself

You can not spoil the whole family function just because of a family member. Keep your focus on spending time with the family you enjoy and doing activities you find fun. Even if the family member you hate in this room, try to focus on other things. Find a distraction to help you get through the interaction(like playing with pet) if you find yourself in a conversation with this relative. You may suggest making name cards and sitting far from this person if you fear sitting next to the relative during meals.

Keep him/her busy

One way to deal with a difficult relative is to give them a job or a task at family gatherings. If a meal is being made, ask the relative to make salad or set the table, and let him/her do it the way he/she wants. That way the relative will feel like he/she is making a contribution, and they are not unwanted, and will be out of your way for sometime. Find ways to include this relative and also keep his/her busy.

Use humor

If the situation is uncomfortable or tense, you can use humor to handle difficult behavior and bring some lightness to the situation. Make a casual comment that shows you aren't taking yourself or the situation seriously.

Take a exit plan

If you fear interactions with this relative, come prepared to the event with an exit plan of why you need to leave. You may have call a friend or a friend call you with an emergency, or you can say house alarm system is going off, or your pet is ill. Whenever you get a chance, make a potential excuse if you are feeling uncomfortable or angry with your relative.

Need comfort level boundaries

Avoid heated debates

If your relative loves to bring up politics but you had rather not discuss it, do not engage the conversation. Make an effort not to bring up politics when in this family setting. Even if your relative tries to provogue you on, its up to you how you respond. This goes for sports teams, universities, or casual rivalries. You can say "We can either agree or disagree and leave it at that" or "I had rather not get into that here and i had prefer to have a great family gathering without this unnecessary argument again."

Resolve conflicts

If you can not stand your relative because of a conflict, see if you can resolve the conflict between you and your relative. You may need to find time to sit down, be honest with each other, and clear the air.Always be kind, polite and non-defensive. As soon as you resolve conflicts, the situation will be lightening. Be willing to forgive for the past incidents. You don't have to ignore the situation or pretend it didn't happen, but learn to forgive so that you can release the hurt in pain from within yourself.

Pick your own battle

Your relative may say something offensive that you immediately want to retaliate or fire back, but take a deep breath and decide whether it's worth engaging or not. If your relative says something offensive, ask yourself whether your comment will alter his perception or it will spark a debate. Sometime saying nothing is the best option to control the heated situation.

Upfront your family rules

If you struggle to enforce family boundaries with relatives,let them know that family rules apply at all times. If you don't like how a relative treats your child(like bossing the child around or feeding foods that are unhealthy),let this relative know that the behavior goes against family rules, and family rules are enforced in and outside the home. Be upfront when discussing this with your relative.

Avoid aggressive remarks

Sometime certain passive aggressive remarks from your relative comparing you to other nieces or nephews("Amrit got into the university but you didn't get a chance"). You may even feel manipulated by your relative by passive aggressive remarks or actions. You can keep distance as much as possible and don't interact more than you have to, remember it is not about you and even it's not personal. If you feel like you are being manipulated, find an exit strategy from the conversation("I am going to see if any help is needed in the kitchen" or "I am going to go play with my cousins"). Do not much engage in the conversation.

Learn the art of saying "NO"

If your relative wants some things from you(money,labor,room to stay etc.), don't be hesitate to say no. Remember that you have the right to say "no". If you want to say "yes", consider all the perspectives. You have the right to wait and think before you agree to anything. You don't have to justify your response or give an excuse. Say like, "I am sorry. I am unable to do that." You don't need anyone an explanation.

Handle unpleasant situations

If a relative has done something unforgivable, enforce whatever boundaries allow you to feel safe. Put the focus on feeling safe, and not on punishing the family member. Use your best judgement to handle the situation and telling other family members. Keep in mind you family may no feel the same way and continue a relationship with this family member. While you may want your distance from your relative for your safety, realize that incident can be really hurtful, both to you and your family members.

Manage your hate feelings

Take care of yourself

If you know you will be spending the day with a relative you dislike, make sure you come into the situation as prepared as possible. Make sure you get a good night sleep the night before. If you are feeling tired and grumpy at any family celebration party, leave early and make sure you have eaten, if your blood sugar is stable, you are less likely to become angry or aggressive.

It is not always about you

Stand firm and remember who you are. Do your best to tune out the words, and remind yourself. "This is not about me. This is my uncle's projection." People have their own personal issues they are dealing with. This can happen when people have low self esteem, anger issues, or stress. Other people might act a certain way and truly believe it is okay and normal. This can be caused by a number of factors, but one example might be a person who lets their competitive into their personal life. Some individuals simply don't have the emotion to feel empathy. This may be brought about by generic differences or by the way someone was brought up.

Realize you can't change the mentality

There is nothing you can do change the person whom you don't get along. You may have a fantasy of a happy family celebrating every holiday together, and when this relative comes, it crushes that fantasy. It's up to you to drop this fantasy and accept that this is the family you have, and that fantasy is nothing more than a happy and nice thought that's not based in reality.

Accept your relative

Good or bad you have to accept your relative. Listen when your relative talks and try to understand his/her point of view.

Find out rue reasons to be grateful

While you may have family gatherings specifically because you hate to spending time with difficult relative, no doubt you can find something that you can look forward to or feel grateful for in meeting with your family. Maybe you are excited to see your cousins, or happy you to cook. Find things to be grateful for even before you arrive to the family function. That way you can go into the situation already feeling thankful.

Consult a doctor

If you have a hard time moving past the hurt and pain the relative has caused, you may benefit from the therapy. A therapist can help you work through feelings, find coping mechanism, see things from different perspective, and help to relief from depression, anxiety or other diagnoses. You may also consider family therapy if you wish to engage your relative in therapy with you.

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Author: Kailash Kumar28 Mar 2016 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 3

Perhaps the best way to deal with a difficult relative or family member is subscribe to the philosophy that one one can fight with the God. The almighty God has made that particular individual in certain way, now no one can change that. They will have to be accepted in the form they exist. Generally the individuals who are self dependent, don't care much about their relatives etc. in case they are not behaving appropriately. There has to be a relationship of mutual respect. After all they meet for shorter periods only and after that they mind their own business. Then why to spoil our own mood by minding about their behavior too much. It is better to tolerate them temporarily.
There are many relatives who tend to blackmail by telling that they will spread bad words about the individual concerned in their social circle. As long as one's conduct is good , no one else can malign/tarnish the same. The stubborn and recalcitrant relatives should be dealt with firmly and should not be allowed to take undue advantages.

Author: Ramachandran Pattabiraman28 Mar 2016 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 2

According to me, there is relative with 'dont like'. Relationship of any kind does not come as anything. It is coming to a human as offered and not created by our own. As father, uncle or any such relations are coming by our birth and not as fetching, we should not hate them or donot like them. If they do some problems to us or create any unwanted things to us, we should leave them as it is and should not hate him/her/them on any account as we have no right to demolish the relationship on any manner.

Author: K Mohan31 Mar 2016 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 3

In every family there are some relatives who won't like our progress or our way of life. Though we are not at all concerned with them, they do poke nose on no important matter and then belittle us in front of others. Some people get solace by degrading others. The best way is to avoid them totally. Suppose if you are sitting with interesting people and suddenly the annoying relative joins the discussion, please excuse yourself having urgent work. Because if you are present there surely there will be nasty interactions and that will snowball in to a bigger controversy. Secondly some times there could be compulsion from your end to stay. For example if you are taking lunch with others and the annoying relative joins there for lunch, its is better to wish him and continue with your eating without saying further. Even if he instigates to talk, please turn down politely that talking is not recommended while eating. That statement is strong enough to keep him shut.

Author: Partha K.05 Apr 2016 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 0

I find this article extremely useful. I sincerely thank the author of writing this article which has provided various ways of tackling unpleasant situations involving unwanted relatives.

Generally I am extremely reluctant to meet the unwanted an troublesome relatives. However, sometimes meeting with such relatives and unpleasant situations can't be avoided. In such cases, the steps suggested by the author would be useful in tackling such situations. I find the comments of other Members of ISC are also good and provide guidance to deal with such situations. Thumbs up!

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